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Symphony
CONDUCTOR PLAYOFFS BEGIN IN SANTA ROSA
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, October 08, 2017
The Santa Rosa Symphony is calling 2017-18 “a choice season” because the next few months offer the audience and the symphony’s board of directors a chance to choose a new conductor from a pool of five candidates. Each candidate will lead a three-concert weekend set this fall and winter, with a final...
Symphony
DVORAK AND TCHAIKOVSKY ORCHESTRAL COLOR AT SO CO PHIL SEASON OPENER
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, September 30, 2017
A concert with curious repertoire and splashy orchestral color launched the 19th season of the Sonoma County Philharmonic Sept. 30 in Santa Rosa High School’s Auditorium. Why curious? Conductor Norman Gamboa paired the ever-popular Dvorak and his rarely heard 1891 trilogy In Nature’s Realm, with t...
Recital
ELEGANT PIANISM IN WATER MUSIC CHARMS HOUSE RECITAL AUDIENCE
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, September 03, 2017
A standard component of house concerts often involve listeners hearing the music but also smelling the lasagna and seeing the champagne in the adjacent kitchen. But it was not the case Sept. 3 at Sandra Shen’s Concerts Grand House Recital performance, as her riveting piano playing enthralled the sm...
Chamber
YOUNG MUSICIANS SHINE AT PIANO SONOMA CONCERT
by Lee Ormasa
Tuesday, August 01, 2017
The third in a series of four concerts by Piano Sonoma artists in residence, part of the Vino and Vibrato Series, was held August 1 in Schroeder Hall at the Green Music Center. Entitled “The Masters,” the program included works by Bach, Beethoven, Mozart and Haydn. Piano Sonoma is a summer artist-in...
Chamber
THRILLING PROGRAM CLOSES VOM CHAMBER FESTIVAL AT HANNA CENTER
by Lee Ormasa
Sunday, July 30, 2017
The finale of the two-week Valley of the Moon Music Festival closed July 30 with “The Age of Bravura” concert at the Sonoma’s Hanna Boys Center. The musical selections held to this year’s Festival theme “Schumann’s World - His Music and the Music He Loved.“ This summer Festival features chamber mus...
Chamber
PERIOD INSTRUMENTAL SOUND AT PENULTIMATE VOM FESTIVAL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, July 30, 2017
In the Valley of the Moon Chamber Music Festival’s penultimate concert July 30 the perennial issue of period and modern instruments was apparent. But only in the concluding Mendelssohn Trio, as the performances in the two first half works easily avoided instrumental comparisons. Clara Schumann’s t...
Chamber
ECLECTIC REPERTOIRE IN FETCHING VOM FESTIVAL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, July 22, 2017
One of the purposes of summer music festivals is to present unfamiliar music in an attractive and often small audience setting. The Valley of the Moon Music Festival delightfully met these requirements July 22 and 23 with two concerts in the small hall at Sonoma’s Hanna Boys Center. Classical Sono...
Recital
ADAMS' PHRYGIAN GATES HIGHLIGHTS MORKOSKI FESTIVAL PERFORMANCE
by Lee Ormasa
Saturday, July 22, 2017
Attendees at the Molly Morkoski Mendocino Music Festival recital July 22 were in for a treat, both pianistically and if they happened to buy a tasty cookie during intermission. The program included Beethoven’s Op. 27 Moonlight Sonata, Adams’ Phrygian Gates, a surprise add-on of Grieg’s Holberg Suit...
Symphony
SOARING VERDI REQUIEM CLOSES 31ST MENDOCINO FESTIVAL
by Lee Ormasa
Saturday, July 22, 2017
We speak frequently about how there is nothing like the experience of a live performance. Seldom was this truer than at the July 22 closing performance of the two-week Mendocino Music Festival. The Festival Orchestra, conducted by of Allan Pollack, joined with the Festival Chorus in a moving renderi...
Recital
ORGAN REGISTRATION MASTERY HEARD IN WALHAIN'S RECITAL
by Robert Young
Tuesday, July 18, 2017
A group of 65 lucky attendees July 18 had the pleasure of hearing Etienne Walhain’s recital at the Church of the Incarnation in Santa Rosa. Mr. Walhain is organist at the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Tournai, Belgium, and played to a varied program Bach, Franck, and Reger. He used the tonal resource...
CHAMBER REVIEW
Piano Sonoma / Sunday, August 03, 2014
Performers TBA

Peter Duggan and Charles Yang

PIANO SONOMA JAMS IN FINAL WEILL CONCERT

by Terry McNeill
Sunday, August 03, 2014

PianoSonoma concluded its artist-in-residence performances August 3 in a sparkling Weill Hall concert where mostly new music overshadowed conventional fare.

Mendelssohn’s popular D Minor Trio began the program in a workmanlike performance that never quite caught fire. Tempos throughout were judicious, supported by the warm bottom register of cellist Julian Schwartz, and pianist David Aladashvili’s legato scale passages were, as usual for chamber music in Weill, often indistinct.

The lyrical Andante was lovely with fetching piano duos with violinist Yevgeny Kutik, the latter’s sound having pitch problems and a thin treble tone. The Scherzo was lively and the headlong rush of the finale well controlled. It was trio playing that was light on thematic projection and rubato but deserved the loud applause from the audience of 300.

A seven-section Thomas Cabaniss work, “Movements for Tiny Bits of Outrageous Love,” was boisterously played four hands from score by PianoSonoma directors Jessica and Michael Shinn. In his pre-performance remarks, Mr. Shinn asked the audience to make connections between the work’s witty titles and their own lives. Virtuosity was on display in every piece, from the quotidian “One and One” through “Flutter Flutter” (long shimmering trills and tremolos) and the new age and minimalist “Love Song.” In the nocturne-like “Respite” there was an air of nostalgic Brahms that quickly moved to a brief toccata and a charming slow waltz.

The only astringency was “Crossings,” wild at times with each pianist crossing both hands and making verbal shouts and looks of feigned surprise. The “Two” finale had relaxed playing with a deft rise and fall of phrase. Here the control of dynamics was perfect and the playing was justly received with one of the afternoon’s many ovations. What a showpiece “Movements” is!

A local premiere followed, composer-in-residence Paul Frucht’s unnamed piece for two pianos. Peter Duggan and Mr. Aladashvili played it wonderfully. At turns percussive, rumbling and busy, Mr. Frucht (in the audience and shouting “bravos” at the end) has written a work with cascades of notes and some inside-the-piano string plucking. The artists made the most of the short lyrical sections amid the raucous grand sweep that grew inexorably to a powerful conclusion.

Violinist Charles Yang and Mr. Duggan concluded the program with Ravel’s exciting Tzigane, the long solo violin introductory passage carrying clearly in the hall. Though sporadically clipping off phrase endings. Mr. Yang took his time in the 1924 piece, eschewing the often seen flamboyant body motions for lithe leaning into the gypsy harmonics and rhythms. Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsodies (6, 9 and 12) for piano seemingly were models for this impassioned work. Both artists played off the other’s energy and conveyed a bit of menace in the scintillating score, a staple for virtuosi. The string pizzicato was convincingly forceful, as were Mr. Duggan’s even trills and athletic right hand skips. The acceleration of the coda to presto was dramatic.

Speaking of skips, after an unprogrammed five-minute piano-violin jam session that finished the concert to a standing ovation, Mr. Yang skipped off the stage with a full cartwheel.

PianoSonoma’s final concert was a cheerful event with serious and genial music captivatingly played.